Men/Fathers

How to Beat the Back-to-School AND Back-to-Work Crunch!

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We know it’s coming – the dreaded back-to-school crunch – but every year we seem to be caught off guard. Plus, as we struggle with the beginning of a new school year, work projects on hold for the summer suddenly go into overdrive as fourth quarter/year-end is just around the corner.

It’s a double whammy recipe for disaster unless moms and dads take action now.

As I explain in my new book, Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day, (Center Street/Hachette), parents can get ahead of the mayhem by adding these simple “tweaks” to their weekly work+life fit check-in the last couple of weeks in August:

First, identify, breakdown and plan the back-to-school activities typically encountered every year. For example:

  • Add 2013-2014 school dates into your calendar, including extra-curricular sport and activities.
  • If your kids haven’t started school yet, review the “summer pre-work” your child may have and count back from the first day of school to set a reasonable schedule for completion. Minimize the last minute all-nighters.
  • Buy school supplies early, before the line is out the door and the shelves are picked clean (I seem to find myself in those lines every year!)
  • Take advantage of back-to-school sales to buy a couple of basic needs but count on shorts and t-shirts for the first few weeks. Saves money and unworn clothes in the closet.

Next, think about projects and responsibilities at work that will require attention after Labor Day:

  • Sit down with your boss to clearly identify projects and priorities for September and October.
  • Ask if there is anything you and the team could do to prepare and get a jump-start on. Right now, we are planning for upcoming consulting projects and speaking engagements that will gear up after Labor Day.
  • Share dates you may need to take off or have additional flexibility around back-to-school, such as first day(s) of drop off and pick up.
  • Leave the evenings and weekends the week before and two weeks after the start of school as free and uncommitted as possible.
  • If you have to schedule out of town travel or evening work activities, make sure you coordinate with your partner or friends for child care coverage well in advance. I have a trip to San Francisco the week after my kids start school, but I am already thinking about what I need to arrange before I leave.

A little bit of thoughtful planning, discussion and action now, can limit the back-to-school stress, and the fourth-quarter work frenzy later.

What do you do to beat the back-to-school AND back-to-work crunch?

If you haven’t done so already, I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost and to “like” our Facebook page.

How to Make Vacation Part of Your Busy, Everyday Work+Life Fit (Video)

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I don’t care what the calendar says, for me, Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer! 

Hopefully, over the next three months, you will take a real, put-your-mobile-phone away, reconnect with your friends and family, vacation.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a long weekend or ten days.  Take a vacation!!

Why?  In a do-more-with-less, always on economy, vacation is no longer a “nice to have,” but optional, benefit.  To be as innovative, focused, and engaged as possible, we all need time to rest and recharge.

Unfortunately, the U.S. ranks dead-last on the list of rich, Western countries offering mandatory, paid vacation.  In fact, we are the only country that offers nothing.  (If you are interested in why I believe this is not only a shameful, but unsustainable strategy for the U.S. economy, check out my recent appearance on CNBC’s Street Signs).

No one is going to tap us on the shoulder and say, “hey, get out of here and hit the beach.”  WE have to take the initiative to schedule periodic getaways IN ADVANCE based on the time available to us, our budget, etc.

Yes, I know you are busy.  Yes, I know it can be overwhelming to plan a trip.

Yes, I know it’s a hassle to get out of the office before you leave and then deal with emails, etc. when you get back.

Yes, I know because I feel the exact same way.

But I also understand that when too much time has elapsed between breaks, the well runs dry. I start to go through the motions at work but quality suffers.

To inspire us all to get away, I have asked TWEAK IT inspiration travel expert (and hands on dad!), Matt Villano, to share some of his best simple “get started” vacation tips (below).  Villano writes extensively on travel, and is featured on Expedia.com’s  Viewfinder Blog.  You can also follow him on Twitter @mattvillano.

Here’s an example of Villano’s helpful “bonus tweak” vacation advice from the TWEAK IT Together site:

“Plan a quarterly getaway. Start to consider an overnight. It could be one night, or it could be a weekend-type trip. It doesn’t have to be wildly expensive. You could go camping. You could stay at a Motel 6. It doesn’t really matter where you’re sleeping. What matters is that when you go, you’re actually immersing yourself in the culture of wherever it is you head. And by that, I mean, if you’re going to go to the Ozark Highlands of Missouri, get out and hike. Get a kayak and go paddle some of the rivers. Try some of the hole-in-the-wall type restaurants with food that you would never in a million years consider getting in your hometown.”

Enjoy!  Be sure to tell me where you go this summer AND then how you felt when you got back.

3 Work-Life Assumptions That Are Often Wrong (and Costly)

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Over the last two decades, work and life have transformed so radically that the language we use (e.g. “balance) and the beliefs we hold about the decisions we “should” or “can” make are often out of date.

Here are three examples of work-life assumptions that are frequently wrong…and costly:

Wrong Assumption #1: When a woman has a baby, she will want to work part-time (or not at all), and won’t want to take on more responsibility or travel. Unfortunately, some leaders, managers and colleagues of women in the workplace still make this assumption.

This bias is based on beliefs that continue to influence behavior, even though they no longer broadly apply. For example, Gayle Lemmon recently wrote an article in The Atlantic about research that showed some men in traditional marriages still unconsciously overlook women in the workplace for promotion, etc. because of their assumptions about women and the role they play. In reality, only 29% of children have a stay-at-home parent. The rest either live in a single parent home or both parents work for pay.

  • Why it’s costly: It costs women in that it reinforces the well-documented “motherhood penalty” that affects their career advancement and earnings. It’s costly to employers because the business doesn’t have access to or develop the talent of some of its best employees.
  • Assumption Update: Don’t assume. Discuss preferences which each individual woman. After having a child, some women will want or have to work full-time. They’ll be happy to travel and welcome additional responsibilities. And even if they don’t, women who choose to scale back their career may want to only for a certain period of time. Not forever.

Wrong Assumption #2: Men don’t care about work-life issues. This is an extension of the previous inaccurate assumption. The bias is that work-life is a women’s issue, or more specifically, a mothers’ issue.

From my experience working inside companies, most men care quite a bit about how they manage their lives on and off the job and want to be invited into the conversation. In fact, research shows that men in dual-earner couples are experiencing more work+life conflict than women.

  • Why it’s costly: It costs men because they don’t feel that they have permission to get the support and flexibility they need to manage their work and life better and smarter. Employers lose the productivity and engagement from unnecessarily stressed and overwhelmed men.
  • Assumption Update: We all need to manage our work+life fit everyday if we want to see our friends and family, stay healthy, etc. That includes men and women. And all of us will experience major life transitions that will require a more formal reset of our work+life fit, whether it’s becoming a parent, caring for an aging relative, relocating with a spouse, going back to school or semi-retiring.

Wrong Assumption #3: You can’t have a life and start a successful business. Whether it’s Steve Jobs’ complete devotion to Apple at the expense of time with his family, or Tony Hsieh’s expectation that Zappos employees spend 10-20% of their time outside of work with each other, the assumed gold standard of successful entrepreneurship is 100% work to the exclusion of everything else.

  • Why it’s costly: It scares off many women and men with great business ideas but want to tuck their kids in on occassion and maintain a relationship beyond the people at work. The economy as a whole loses because jobs that are badly needed are not created. It costs potential entrepreneurs, especially women, because they don’t have access to as much capital to grow their businesses.
  • Assumption Update: No one will ever have “balance,” but you can grow a successful business and still have some life outside of work. There are plenty of examples of people doing it and doing it well. This includes the mothers leading successful entrepreneurial ventures who were featured in a recent New York Times article written by Hannah Seligson. Is it hard work? Yes. Can it be done? Yes.

The answer is to assume nothing when it comes to how we want and need to manage our lives on and off the job in a busy, flexible, hectic modern world. Not only are our assumptions often wrong, but they can be costly to both the individual and the business. Instead let’s keep talking to each other. Learn the facts and come up with unique answers that meet our personal needs and the needs of our jobs.

What are the incorrect assumptions that you see people making about work and life? What’s the cost and how can we update those beliefs to match today’s reality?

For more, be sure to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost.

3 Reasons Why Card-Carrying Capitalists Should Support Paid Family Leave

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In business school, we were taught that a solid strategy recognizes the exogenous (external) and endogenous (internal) challenges facing your business and addresses them. Employee child care and eldercare responsibilities are not only two major external business challenges, but they become internal issues the minute an employee walks in the door or signs onto his or her computer.

In the U.S., we pride ourselves on our capitalistic, profit-oriented savvy; therefore, given the growing magnitude of employee caregiving realities, you would assume that employers would support a clear, consistent uniform strategic response.  One that minimized business disruption and kept employees engaged and productive over the long-term. Unfortunately, the reality is the exact opposite.

Status of Paid Family Leave in the U.S.

Out of 178 countries worldwide, the United States is one of three that does not guarantee new mothers paid leave. The other two countries are Papua New Guinea and Swaziland. Nationwide, in March 2011, only 11% of the private sector workers and 17% of public sector workers reported having access to paid leave through their employer.

Only two states in the country, California and New Jersey, offer six weeks of paid family leave to men and women who are caregivers.  Even in the face of state budget challenges, both programs are healthy and successful. Unfortunately, the state leaves are not job-guaranteed which makes the time difficult to take. (New Jersey Paid Family Leave Fact Sheet / California Paid Family Leave Fact Sheet)

Yes, there are 12 weeks of job-guaranteed FMLA, but it is unpaid and employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt which eliminates a large percentage of workers.

In terms of private paid leave offered directly to employees by employers, 58% of mothers who gave birth and were offered leave by their employer received some form of maternity disability pay, but only 14% of men on paternity leave received any replacement income (2012 National Study of Employers). That means 42% of mothers and 86% of fathers with employer supported leave received no income at all.

A Brief History

Historically, a coalition of labor, women’s, child and health advocates have promoted paid family leave. They’ve emphasized the well-documented public health benefits, the peace of mind of employees, benefits for children and eldercare cost savings. While valuable and important, these rationales haven’t withstood the “job killer and “anti-business” arguments used by groups like the Chamber of Commerce to fight approval. (Note: at the end of the post, you will find new information that could indicate the Chamber’s position on caregiving as an important business challenge is evolving, at least in their organization.)

Why?

There are workplace and public policies that plan for time off and income replacement in case of illness or injury. There are 401Ks and social security for when you retire and can no longer work. Why isn’t there a coordinated, uniform workplace and public policy that offers time off and at least partial income replacement when people, inevitably, have babies or an aging parent needs care? Why?

I wanted the question “why” answered when I attended last month’s Paid Family Leave Forum at the Ford Foundation sponsored by the National Center for Children in Poverty, New York State Paid Leave Coalition and A Better Balance. What I learned reinforced my long-held belief that every card-carrying capitalist should support paid family leave public policy because:

  • Paid family leave acknowledges and addresses a reality that directly impacts every business and, therefore, should be planned for strategically, uniformly and deliberately;
  • Paid family leave is NOT a tax, but income replacement insurance program funded by employees at minimal cost and
  • We are paying for a cost for caregiving already, albeit indirectly and inefficiently.

But, First, Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Before we dig deeper into each of the reasons listed above, I have to establish my business credibility, or “cred.” Too often when someone tries to engage the business community on issues that they consider “soft” or societal in nature, the messenger is dismissed as “not understanding business.” This, in turn, dismisses the message. I’m a messenger who can’t be easily dismissed with that argument because I do “get” business.

I was a banker for seven years, specializing in lending to closely held companies and I graduated, with honors, from Columbia Business School. I can rock a balance sheet and cash flow statement with the best of them, and I’ve even been known to find a strange joy in deciphering the “story” within the notes at the back of an annual report. I am a flexible work strategy consultant who works inside of organizations regularly, and I believe that both people and the business must benefit if flexible work is going to succeed.

As advocates for paid family leave found in California, I am not alone. Many business people support a uniform, public policy to address this challenge, but their voices were drowned out by the groups lobbying against it.

3 Reasons Every Card-Carrying Capitalist Should Support Paid Family Leave

My knowledge of and respect for business is why I think every card-carrying, profit-oriented capitalist should support paid family leave policy (or at least not stand in its way):

Reason #1: Paid Family Leave acknowledges and addresses a reality that directly impacts every business and, therefore, should be planned for strategically and deliberately.

The truth is that we are all potential caregivers. We may not end up having children, but all of us have parents and aging relatives who will very likely at some point require care.

Most mothers and fathers have to work and will be in the workforce when they have children. According to studies by the Center for American Progress, “in 2010, among families with children, 49% were headed by two working parents and 26% by single parents.” In 2009, employed wives of dual-earner families contributed 47% of total family earnings. In most cases, the income of both parents is critical to a family’s financial well-being.

With regard to eldercare, in 2010, 45% of employees surveyed said they had eldercare responsibilities over the past five years, and 49% expect to have responsibilities in the next five years. As the population ages, the eldercare challenges are expected to grow and many of those caregivers—men and women–will be in the workforce.

Paid family leave as public policy acknowledges the reality of caregiving by creating a uniform, clear response. Disruption is minimized because everyone knows the rules of the road. Business can plan in advance how the work will get done should an employee take leave for the prescribed six week period of time. This is especially true for maternity leave where, usually, you have months to plan. For example, perhaps the business can use the wages not paid to the employee on leave to hire a temporary worker, or to pay exist staff to take on the extra work during the leave.

It’s worth noting that a follow-up study of employers in California found that a majority felt paid family leave had either a positive or neutral impact on their business.

Reason #2: In the case of California and New Jersey, Paid Family Leave is NOT a tax, but an income replacement insurance program funded by employees.  In fact, some advocates feel a more accurate name is Family Leave Insurance. (Click HERE to go to Forbes.com for more)

Focus on “How” Not the “Why” for Flexible Work Success

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What’s one of the biggest mistakes that I see people make when they present a proposal to work more flexibly to their manager? They focus on “why” they want to work differently, when they should emphasize “how” they are going to get their job done.

Here’s a true story that a manager shared with me that perfectly illustrates the different response you will get.

A young man walks into the manager’s office.  He explains that he’d like to talk about shifting his hours to come in by 11:00 am on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and leave later in the evening. This new schedule will help him train for a marathon, “because it’s getting too dark to run at night.” The manager confessed that his response was, “Yeah, and I’d like to ride in a hot air balloon on Wednesdays.  I’m going to have to say ‘No’.”

Thankfully, the young man came back the next day and took a different approach. He never mentioned marathon training. Instead he focused on how he would get his work done with the new schedule, how he would communicate with customers and his team, and how he would come in if something important needed to get done.  And he would be happy to review the flexible work plan in three months. The manager thought about it and responded, “Okay, let’s give it a shot.”

The manager telling the story said that the first time he felt like he was being asked to do an unreasonable favor. But the second time, the young man had reframed the proposal as a win-win and he felt comfortable saying “yes.” Same proposal, different response.

This is even more critical when you are asking for flexibility to address a personal issue that would be very difficult to say “no” to based on the reason alone…(For more go to Forbes.com)

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Think You Don’t Benefit Directly from Childcare? 3 “What’s In It for Me” That Will Change Your Mind

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In her recent article “Occupy (Working) Motherhood,” Deborah Siegel makes the compelling case that our society still has a long way to go to support mothers who work, especially when it comes to affordable, quality childcare.

To understand the roadblocks that stand in the way of improving the state of childcare, you have to look no further than a comment left by a reader in response to Siegel’s article. The commenter explained,

By “affordable,” I assume you mean “subsidized by others outside my family.” Thanks, I’m spending enough on my own kids (and my wife chooses not to work outside the home) without having to subsidize your parenting choices.

In other words, if you have a child and you work, then you need to shoulder the entire expense of that child’s caregiving. And if you can’t, it’s not my problem because I don’t directly benefit from a system of affordable, high-quality childcare.

While it’s understandable how someone could reach that conclusion, the truth is that people who don’t have children or don’t use high quality, affordable childcare do in fact directly benefit in ways that aren’t necessarily apparent.

We need to do a much better job of explaining these “WIIFMs” or the “what’s in it for me” impacts if we wanted to make progress in this area.

So here are the “WIIFMs” I’ve observed over my 15 years in the trenches helping hundreds of organizations develop strategies to address work+life fit challenges. Hopefully they will encourage support because everyone will understand that they do benefit in the following ways:

WIIFM #1: Your colleagues with children aren’t distracted by breakdowns in care which benefits you. A few years ago, as part of a broader work-life strategy review and update for a Fortune 500 company, we conducted an ROI study of the organization’s childcare center system. The truth was that management was getting pressure to cut this benefit that was seen as unfairly favoring parents over other employees.

As I analyzed the data from our surveys, I wasn’t surprised by how much parents said their productivity and engagement increased from having the consistent, high quality care the center offered. What shocked me was how much their coworkers said they benefited by having more focused, less distracted colleagues.

Once all of the calculations were finished, we estimated that the ROI for the center annually was approximately 125%. Not bad.  Needless to say, the centers stayed. The bottom line is that you benefit when the parents you work with have support.

This doesn’t mean that the alternative answer to try to minimize the number of parents in the workplace through discriminating hiring practices. First, people are going to keep having kids. Second, you will lose many of your best and brightest employees and coworkers.  The better option is to support the creation of high quality, affordable care options either in house or in the community.  It’s the gift that will keep on giving to everyone.

WIIFM#2: The parents who provide important services that you count on will be able to show up and do their jobs. You can’t get a stronger “WIIFM” than that.  I was at a conference a couple of years ago where a team of researchers from Cornell presented their study of the impact of a grant in New York City that created a system of high-quality, in-home childcare providers. The grant also subsidized the cost of care for parents who were home health aides and guards in the New York City school system.

I wish I had a link to the study itself but here are a couple of the findings that stuck with me:

  • By training and licensing the in-home care providers, they created well-paying jobs that in many cases allowed the providers to expand and improve the services they offered.
  • The parents who had access to the affordable, high-quality care reported major improvements in a number of job performance metrics including fewer absences, less tardiness, more engagement on the job, fewer incident reports, etc.

In other words, because they had consistent, reliable care for their children, the guards in the schools were to show up more regularly and do their jobs better. This directly benefits you if your child goes to that school.  He or she is safer. Home health aides were able to show up to care for you aging parents or your ailing spouse. This directly benefits you because you are able to go to work.

WIIFM #3: A high quality, affordable system of support will be there if you need it (and there’s a good chance that you or someone you love will need it.) Building a system of high-quality, affordable childcare doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes years. Thankfully organizations like the United Way through its Success by Six initiative, as well as community advocacy groups like Long Island’s Early Years Institute are leading the charge even in the face of ongoing government cuts to funding. But as Siegel points out in her article, their efforts haven’t been able to make a difference for many parents.

Maybe you don’t need high quality, reliable child care today. And perhaps you never will. But that can change overnight. Over the years, I’ve met parents who, through an unexpected shift in circumstance like illness, death or divorce, find themselves needing care only to realize how hard it is to find. I’ve met grandparents who never had to access child care themselves, but now have a daughter struggling to provide for her family as a single mother without consistent, reliable support for her children.

Maybe the lack of affordable, quality care childcare doesn’t mean anything to you today, but you and those you love directly benefit from the insurance of knowing it’s there should you ever need it.

Many priorities are vying for limited resources on the local, state and federal level. However, in the debate regarding the need to create a system of high-quality, affordable childcare, the position that, “I don’t need to support it because I won’t use childcare and I won’t benefit” doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. You do benefit. We all benefit. Now, the question becomes, what are we going to to to make it better…finally?  What do you think?

If you haven’t already, I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost.

6 Ways to Promote Work Flexibility Culture Change

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Our client, the professional services firm BDO, recently produced a short video about their award-winning approach to work and life flexibility.  Here are the six lessons every organization can takeaway from the clip to help better position flexible work as part of the culture, or the way the business and people operate every day:

Lesson 1: Language matters. BDO Flex is a “strategy.”  It’s about getting work done, serving clients, and managing people.  It’s not a program or policy.  There are policies to support various aspects of the strategy (e.g. compensation, telework equipment) but “flexibility” itself is not a policy.  There are programs that use BDO Flex, but “flexibility” is not a program.

Lesson 2: The employee AND the business must succeed for flexibility to work. All of the stories and key themes in the video reinforce the point of “dual” benefit and impact:

  • ReThink–The possibilities are endless
  • ReFresh–You work hard. Use Flex to recharge
  • ReDefine–Don’t accept business as usual
  • ReDiscover–Don’t lose sight of your dreams
  • ReAssure–Small changes can make a big impact

Lesson 3: Take the time and invest the resources to create a shared vision of success that anchors the strategy. It took months for the firm to create the “BDO Thrives on Flexibility” vision statement, but that process changed hearts and minds and created a shared understanding which moved the culture.

Lesson 4: Flexibility is not just about formal flexible work arrangements. It’s about both formal and informal, day-to-day flexibility in how, when and where you work and manage your life. It’s not an “arrangement,” but a well thought out plan tailored to meet your unique needs and the needs of the business.

Lesson 5: Men and women want and use work flexibility. Work flexibility is not a women’s issue.  It’s a strategy to help all people fit the unique pieces of their lives together in a competitive, hectic, global economy and for businesses to work smarter and better.

Lesson 6: Flexibility is not about child care only. Yes, parents absolutely need to work flexibly; however, as the video shows so do employees who have spouses who relocate, who have a passion for ballroom dancing or cartoon drawing, and who want to stay healthy.  And it’s for leaders who want to reduce the level of employee burnout and service clients better.

What other lessons did you learn from watching how one organization is talking about and positioning strategic flexibility in their business?  What is your organization doing?

If you haven’t already, I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost!

3 Reasons Entrepreneurs Need to Discuss “Work” and “Life,” but Stop Talking About “Balance”

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Last Friday, I had the privilege of participating as a panelist at The White House Urban Economic Forum hosted by Barnard College. The event focused on inspiring, funding and providing technical support to women entrepreneurs.

A recurring theme throughout the conference was how to start and grow a business while taking care of the other parts of your life.  For example:

  • Rebecca Blank, Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, explained that when women are asked why they started their businesses they’re more likely to answer, “So I have flexibility to manage my life and my kids.” In contrast, men respond, “To make a lot of money.”
  • Joanne Wilson, an angel investor and Gotham Gal blogger, said she thought every woman should be an entrepreneur because it gives you the control and flexibility to do work you love and take care of the other parts of your life.

But when one of the moderators, Arianna Huffington, asked the women on her panel, “How do you balance your work and life?” everyone got so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.  If issues related to work and life were so front and center throughout the day, why was “balance” such a tough topic for the group to address?  And why does it matter?

There is no work/life “balance,” which is why no one can answer the question. It’s not that we don’t want to answer the question.  It’s that we can’t, no matter how hard we try (here and here).  This is especially true for entrepreneurs who rarely have any physical or mental division between their lives on and off the job.

The way to start a productive conversation on the subject is to ask someone, “How do you manage the way work and the other parts of your life fit together?”  The conversation shifts away from limiting, unachievable, one-size-fits-all “balance,” to the possibilities of a person’s unique work+life “fit.” You leave room for the truth that there will be times when work is primary, and the other parts of life take a backseat, and vice versa.  And that’s OK.  We can learn from our individual “how to” stories.

It’s imperative that we share our judgment-free strategies for managing work and life if we want women-owned businesses to achieve their full growth potential. Since the research shows that women entrepreneurs are motivated in part by work+life considerations, then it’s critical to share strategies for managing how all of the pieces fit together.  It’s the only way women are going to see the possibilities for themselves and their businesses, and expand beyond the “it can’t be done” meme that’s out there.

Personally, when I heard that my fellow panelist Margery Kraus grew her company, APCO Worldwide, to employ 700 people around the world while staying married to her husband for more than 40 years, raising three children and spending time with 10 grandchildren, I thought, “If she can do it, so can I.”  Technical advice for business growth is important but so are the “how to” strategies for personal success (as you define it for yourself and your family).

We need to challenge the “all work, all the time” model that dominates entrepreneurial lore and funder expectations. In his book “Delivering Happiness—A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose,” Zappos founder, Tony Hsieh, shares his secrets to entrepreneurial success.  One of his rules is that Zappos employees spend a certain percentage of their time outside of work with each other.  A busy entrepreneur who has other personal responsibilities is going to look at that blueprint for growth and think, “I can’t do that.” But is it really necessary?

After more than 15 years creating work+life fit and flexibility strategies for all types of companies, I can honestly say I don’t believe that the “all work, all the time” model is the only path to business success. It’s time to identify and celebrate other examples where an entrepreneur works hard, achieves results but doesn’t completely ignore their own well-being and their important personal relationships.

Changing the narrative around the work+life fit expectations of an entrepreneur is especially critical for women.

Even Jessica Jackley, the highly successful founder of Kiva.org and now CEO of ProFounder, faced blowback when one of her VC investors discovered that she was pregnant with twins. He bravely admitted thinking, “A pregnant founder/CEO is going to fail her company.”  His public honesty allowed Jackley to eloquently point out that her pregnancy shouldn’t interfere with her company’s need for funding and ability to deliver results.  She will figure out how to make it all work.  Success didn’t require an “all or nothing” choice.  But too many entrepreneurs still think it does.

Let’s learn from each other by asking, “How does your work as a busy entrepreneur fit into the other parts of your life?”  There’s no right answer or “balance,” only countless possibilities for growth and success, personally and professionally.  And in the process, we can expand beyond the outdated “all work, all the time” entrepreneurial growth mindset that limits everyone—men and women.

If you’re an entrepreneur, how to you grow your business and manage the other parts of your life?  What’s your work+life “fit?”

NEW 2011 Work+Life Fit Reality Check Survey (4th Edition) Results Released

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DESPITE RECENT RECESSION, NEW RESEARCH FINDS FINANCIAL & JOB INSECURITIES NOT THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES TO WORK LIFE FLEXIBILITY

Time & Workload are the Problem in 4th Edition of Work+Life Fit Reality Check; Survey Shows Notable Shifts in Work Life Flexibility Concerns, Satisfaction and Use over Five Year Period

June 9, 2011 – Just as employees have gotten comfortable with the idea of work life flexibility, worrying less about the impact it has on their paychecks or careers, new research shows increased workloads or no time are now the biggest obstacles.  The finding is from the 2011 Work+Life Fit™ Reality Check, a telephone survey of a national probability sample of 637 full-time employed adults, sponsored by Work+Life Fit, Inc. and conducted by Opinion Research Corporation March 3 – 7, 2011.

The current Work+Life Fit Reality Check, first conducted in 2006, has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent and also found:

  • During the recession, about nine out of ten respondents said that their use of work life flexibility either increased (11%) or stayed the same (76%).
  • While in the recovery, nine out of ten felt their level of use of work life flexibility would increase (10%) or stay the same (82%).
  • Compared to this time last year, more than eight out of ten report they have the same (66%) or an increased amount (17%) of work life flexibility.
  • Without work life flexibility, 66% believe the business suffers with employee health, morale and productivity as the most affected areas.
  • Looking for a new job is the plan for more than one-third (35%); 33% of those cite a more flexible schedule and 25% the ability to telework as a reason.  (Job search questions sponsored by CareerOwners.com.)

“Whatever flexibility there was before the downturn survived, indicating it is here to stay in good times and bad.  Work life flexibility withstood its toughest test and continues to grow,” said Cali Williams Yost, CEO, Work+Life Fit, Inc.  “But – just when employees start to worry less about using flexibility – now they think they’re too busy to do so.  Clearly, both organizations and employees struggle with how to make flexibility work as a meaningful and deliberate part of the way we manage our business, work and lives.”

Yost will discuss the findings at a free webinar Tuesday, June 14 at 1 p.m. EST. Register at http://bit.ly/myQLyR.

Obstacles Evolve and Put Organizations at Risk

Fewer respondents report obstacles to using or improving their work life flexibility, 61% in 2011 compared to 76% in 2006.  The most cited (29%) obstacle in 2011 was “increased workload or no time for flexibility.”  But, despite going through one of the worst economic recessions ever, financial and perception worries have progressively become less problematic.

  • You might make less money:  21% in 2011 versus 45% in 2006
  • You might lose your job:  16% in 2011 versus 28% in 2006
  • Others will think you don’t work hard:  11% in 2011 versus 39% in 2006
  • You worry that your boss would  say “no”:  13% in 2011 versus 32% in 2006

“These findings are proof that the workplace has become more comfortable with flexibility.  The challenge is to continue to address roadblocks that often unnecessarily hinder how we optimize and benefit from flexibility personally and organizationally,” Yost said.  “Flexibility should be used to manage increased workflows and dwindling resources, not be avoided because of them.”

Otherwise, 66% of those surveyed indicated the possible risks that result from a lack of work life flexibility.

  • Health is affected—you’re stressed or lack time for exercise: 48%
  • Morale is affected—you don’t feel good about working at your company or organization: 41%
  • Productivity is affected—you can’t get your work done as fast as you like: 36%
  • Focus and attention, or engagement, is affected—you can’t concentrate the way you would like to on your work: 34%
  • Loyalty is affected—you’re not as committed to your employer and/or boss: 34%
  • Creativity is affected—you have a harder time problem solving or coming up with new ideas: 31%

“Organizations and employees must move forward together taking a hard look at what, how, when and where work is best performed; how technology can support – not overwhelm – that work; and why they should champion flexibility as an operational and financial tool.  The time has passed for seeing flexibility simply as a perk offered at certain ideal times,” Yost explained.

Get the complete Executive Summary of 2011 Work+Life Fit Reality Check survey

Get Takeaway Tips for Employers from the survey findings

Get Takeaway Tips for Individuals from the survey findings

Connect with @caliyost on Twitter, and in the “Make Flexibility Real” LinkedIn group.

How Parents Can Add Cyber Safety Awareness to Their Busy Work+Life Fit

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Yesterday, May 17th, was National Cyber Safety Awareness Day, a reminder to all of us busy parents that we need to be cyber-aware about what their children are doing online. And most of us aren’t.  Shawn Marie Edgington, “Americas leading “Texpert” and cyberbullying prevention expert” wants to change that with her new book, “The Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook and Social Media,” and the One-Click Safety Series

Since she discovered the her own daughter was being threatened by text and on Facebook, Edgington has been on a mission to help protect our kids against the dangers that exist on the wild, wild web, and wants every parent to know that no child is immune.

As Dr. Oz’s new Sharecare.com expert, she plans to provide her expertise to help both parents and teens get the advice they need.  She is also the CEO of a National Insurance Brokerage where she provides risk management and guidance to clients across the country about the repercussions of inappropriate social media and harassment usage in the workplace.

In this guest post, Edgington offers important tips to help parents add cyber-safety awareness to their busy work+life fit.

For centuries, parents have been able to easily protect and guard their children… but with today’s technology, social networks and mobile messaging, it’s easier for predators and bullies to reach out and attack our children from anywhere and at anytime; silently and with ease.
Cyberbullying occurs when a minor uses technology to deliberately and repeatedly engage in hostile behavior to harm or threaten another minor, and is against the law.

  • Almost half of our youth experience some form of online harassment (Cyberbullying Research Center)
  • 71% of teens receive messages from strangers (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
  • Over half of teens have engaged in cyberbullying (i-Safe)

Most teens don’t tell their parents what’s happening in their online world, which is why it’s critical that parents take a pro-active approach and become aware of how technology can be abused and talk to their kids about the dos and don’ts for using technology.  When it comes to cyberbullying, prevention is critical.

Establish rules: If your teenager has a cell phone or access to the Internet or both, be sure to sit down with them and review the Rules of Engagement agreement for such use, and have them agree to your rules by signing the agreement.

Obey age restrictions: Obey age limitations set by social networks.  Facebook requires users to be at least 13-years-old.

Sexting and Internet avoidance: If your young child has a cell phone, make sure that it can’t access the Internet. If their phone has a camera/video feature, contact your provider to disable their MMS service.

Invest in Smart Limits: This service allows parents to “set text boundaries, disable text service after bedtime, and control who can be blocked from sending texts, among other benefits.

Check privacy and security settings, guard passwords: Double check all of your child’s security settings to be sure they are all set to private and instruct your child to never share their passwords with anyone.

Know your child’s friends: Frequently monitor who your child is connected to.  Be sure they are people that they know in real life, and people you trust.

Closely monitor Internet and cell phones:  Keep the computer in a visible place, and spot check text messages, videos and photos.

Think before posting: Help your child manage their online image and reputation.  Encourage your child to treat others online as they want to be treated in real life.  It’s crucial they understand what’s posted on the Internet stays on the Internet forever.

Limit Personal Information: Be cautious about how much personal information your child posts. The more detailed the information, the easier it is for online predators, hackers, etc. to use their information to commit crimes.

Ignore/Block/Report: Show your child how to ignore, block and report people who aren’t being nice to them, whether in person, by text message or on the Internet.  Help your child understand how important it is to not respond to any negative messages and to immediately report them to a trusted adult.

Contact the Authorities: The police take cyberbullying very seriously.  If your child is ever physically threatened or contacted by a stranger, notify the police immediately.

Children lack the maturity and experience to deal with a difficult situation like being the target of a cyberbully.  Children will look to a trusted adult to help them respond appropriately and get through difficult situations.  Knowledge is power!  If you are aware of what’s happening, you can get involved and facilitate change.  Cyberbullying is a REAL threat to teens. Educate yourself and protect your children from the hazards of networking online or using their cell phones.

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